This summer has seen some truly astonishing transfer fees being thrown around by clubs hoping to improve their chances for the coming season, helped by the increasing amount of TV money in football. Last year, Manchester United smashed the world record transfer fee when they paid £89million for Paul Pogba but it looks like that could be blown out of the water as Real Madrid and Manchester City battle for Monaco striker Kylian Mbappe. With the transfer record likely to be broken some time in the next month, we’ve taken a look at how it’s progressed since 1975, when the first £1 million fee was paid by a club.
1975 - Giuseppe Savoldi - £1.2million
The striker become the first million pound player when he moved to Napoli from Bologna for £1.2m, aged 26. This was off the back of seven years with I Rossoblu, where he’d scored 85 in 201 games. He spent four years in Naples, scoring another 55 Serie A goals.
1976 - Paulo Rossi - £1.75million
Rossi become the world’s most expensive player in a shock move by Vicenza back in 1976. He was part-owned by both Vicenza and Juventus, and the buying club offered Juve £1.75m to make him a full Vicenza player. The striker scored 60 in 94 for the Biancorossi and led Italy to a World Cup win six years later.
1982 - Diego Maradona - £3million
Aged 22, Barcelona paid Boca Juniors £3m for a man who had been well-known in Argentina since he was 15, and became on of the greatest players of all time. He spent two years in Catalonia, scoring 22 goals, before heading to Italy…
1984 - Diego Maradona - £5million
Maradona broke the transfer record again, two years after he first did it, as he moved to Napoli. It was with Napoli that he enjoyed the most success at club level, spending seven years there. He helped them win five major trophies, including two league titles.
1987 - Ruud Gullit - £6million
Gullit broke the record in a move from PSV Eindhoven to AC Milan in 1987, and became part of an effective triumvirate for AC, alongside Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten.
1990 - Roberto Baggio - £8million
Juventus continued the theme of Italian clubs breaking the transfer record when they paid Fiorentina £8million for Roberto Baggio. He would go on to spend half a decade in Turin, scoring 71 Serie A goals.
1992 - Jean-Pierre Papin - £10million
Papin became the first £10m player in hisotry back in 1992, when AC Milan persuaded Marseille to part with him for that princely sum. He stayed for two years in Milan, winning two league titles, two Super Cups and a Champions League, before heading off to the Bundesliga to join Bayern Munich.
1992 - Gianluca Vialli - £12million
Papin didn’t remain the world record signing for long, with Gianluca Vialli breaking the record the very same summer, when he moved to Juventus from Sampdoria. He ended up having a successful four years with I Bianconeri, winning the Champions League and UEFA Cup, as well as the Serie A title.
1992 - Gianluigi Lentini - £13million
1992 was a good year for the world transfer record, with Gianluigi Lentini ensuring it was broken for a third time that year when he moved to AC Milan from Torino. Unfortunately a year after moving, he was involved in a serious car crash and he failed to properly recover the abilities which had made him the world’s most expensive player, before leaving in 1996.
1996 - Ronaldo - £13.2million
Ronaldo got his first major move in 1996, when he joined Barcelona from PSV in a world record deal. He was only a Barca player for one season, but he netted 34 goals in just 37 games in the league, before heading off to Italy to join Inter Milan. Five years later, he would be back in Spain with Real Madrid.
1996 - Alan Shearer - £15million
Shearer broke the world transfer record in a move back to the club he’d supported as a kid, Newcastle United from Blackburn Rovers where he’d won the Premier League. Shearer spent a decade with The Magpies, and is still the Premier League’s all-time leading goalscorer, with 260 goals.
1997 - Ronaldo - £19.5million
As previously mentioned, Ronaldo broke the transfer record in successive years, moving to Inter for significantly more than Barcelona had paid for him a year prior. The Brazilian scored 59 goals in all competitions for the Serie A club, before moving to Real in 2002.
1998 - Denilson - £21.5million
The winger was a shock addition to the list of most expensive players in 1998 when he moved to Spain’s Real Betis from Sao Paulo in a £21.5m deat. He spent a relativley successful seven years with the Spanish side, winning a Copa del Rey in 2005.
1999 - Christian Vieri - £32.1million
The world transfer record made it’s biggest jump, increasing by almost £11 million, when Inter Milan signed Christian Vieri from Lazio in 1999. He spent six years with i Nerazzurri, scoring 123 goals before swapping blue-and-black stripes for red-and-black by joining AC Milan.
2000 - Hernan Crespo - £35.5million
An Italian side broke the world transfer record again, with Lazio paying a huge £35.5m fee for Parma’s Hernan Crespo. He went on to score 26 in 32 in his first season in Rome, but suffered with injuries the next season and scored half as many before moving to Inter Milan in 2002.
2000 - Luis Figo- £37million
Luis Figo invited the hatred of Barcelona fans everywhere when he completed a world-record move to their biggest rivals Real Madrid in 2000. He may have enjoyed success at the Santiago Bernabeu, but objects thrown at him during El Clasico matches – including knives and a pig’s head – ensured he wouldn’t forget his previous club.
2001 - Zinedine Zidane - £46.6million
Real broke the transfer record again in 2001, when they paid a staggering £46.6m to Juventus for French midfielder Zinedine Zidane. He went on to win six trophies in half a decade in Spain, including a Champions League in which his goal won the final and he is now back at Los Blancos as manager, where he won a second consecutive Champions League title in May.
2009 - Kaka - £56million
Kaka became the first player to break the world record for eight years when he moved to Real Madrid for £56m from AC Milan. Despite the astronomical fee, he failed to nail down a regular place in the team and left in 2013 having made 120 appearances in all competitions.
2009 - Cristiano Ronaldo - £80 million
Real Madrid ensured that they would have the honour of breaking the transfer record again in 2009, when they completed the £80m signing of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United. The eye-watering fee has proved to be a worthwhile investment for Real, as Ronaldo is now their top goalscorer of all time.
2013 - Gareth Bale - £86 million
Bale’s exploits with Tottenham persuaded Real Madrid to break the transfer record for the fifth successive time to bring in Welsh winger Gareth Bale. He’s been a successful signing when he’s played and has won three Champions League titles since moving to Real.
2016 - Paul Pogba - £89million
Manchester United broke the world record to resign Paul Pogba from Juventus. The deal, worth an initial £89million, could rise even further if he meets some performance-related bonuses which have been specified in his contract. The previous world record stood for around three years, time will tell if this one can last as long, but it’s looking highly unlikey with Mbappe seemingly on the move.